The diverse group of applicants vying for a dream home in ABC's Welcome to the Neighborhood won't become TV stars anytime soon.
Less than two weeks before the much-maligned reality show's July 10 premiere, ABC abruptly pulled the plug. The show, in which seven families competed for a house in an upscale Austin, Tex., subdivision, came under fire for its offensive premise: Three white Christian couples living in the subdivision were to choose new neighbors from the contestants — including African-American, Asian-American, Latino and gay families.
National Fair Housing Alliance president Shanna Smith, who has seen two episodes of the series, believes it violates the Federal Fair Housing Act, which bans discrimination based on race and religion (among other categories). Smith says she had four "honest and frank confidential discussions" with ABC president Alex Wallau.
"ABC clearly wouldn't have created a show where a restaurant would refuse service because of religion or color. ABC had no malicious intent," Smith says. She adds that Wallau "listened to our concerns and arguments about the law." Before the network scrapped the show, Smith was preparing a temporary restraining order to keep it off the air. (According to a source, the family who "won" the pretaped competition will be allowed to move into the house even if the show never airs.)
The network and the producers refused to comment beyond a statement defending Welcome to the Neighborhood as "transformative" and explaining that they axed it "given the sensitivity of the subject matter."
TV Guide has learned that viewers might yet get to visit the Neighborhood. A source says there's a chance that the show might show up "in some other form" on ABC at some point in the future.
For more scoop on ABC's controversial summer reality programming, click here.!--inlineadrangeend-->